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Gulfstream Park Preview | H. Allen Jerkens Handicap 2023: Value Engineering Bids For Repeat
Value Engineering (Lauren King / Coglianese Photo)

Gulfstream Park Preview | H. Allen Jerkens Handicap 2023: Value Engineering Bids For Repeat

Michael Hui and Phil Forte’s Value Engineering lost his chance to defend his title in the $100,000 H. Allen Jerkens Handicap on Tapeta last Saturday due to a weather-related postponement at Gulfstream Park.

The 7-year-old gelding will have a second chance to defend his title on turf in Sunday’s re-scheduled two-mile handicap that honors the memory of the beloved Hall of Fame trainer.

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The Michael Maker-trained Value Engineering excelled at running long distances on both turf and Tapeta last season at Gulfstream Park. After being purchased for $35,000 at the Keeneland November sale, he won at first asking in the Jerkens, which was transferred to the Tapeta course and run at a mile and five furlongs.

Value Engineering, who had won 3 of 15 starts for trainer Chad Brown, stepped up to finish a close second behind Maker-trained Grade 1 stakes-winner Red Knight in the 1 3/8-mile McKnight (G3) at 1 ½ miles on turf. He broke through with his first graded-stakes victory five weeks later in the 1 3/8-mile Mac Diarmida (G2).

Value Engineering went on to finish off the board in the Elkorn (G2) at Keeneland and Man O’ War (G1) at Belmont before going to the sidelines. He returned to action two weeks ago with an off-the-board finish in a Turfway optional claiming allowance.

“Last time, he had a horrible post and I think the mile was too short for him,” Maker said. “But we wanted the race to prepare for this one.”

The son of Lemon Drop Kid has been assigned highweight of 124 pounds and will concede between one and 13 pounds to his seven rivals.

Maker is also scheduled to saddle Lawrence Goichman and Jennifer Goichman’s Shawdyshawdyshawdy, who finished behind Value Engineering in last season’s McKnight and Mac Diarmida, and Michael Dubb’s Catch That Party, an allowance winner on turf at Aqueduct last time out.

Jose Ortiz, who was aboard for the Maker trainee’s three Gulfstream starts last season, will be reunited with Value Engineering Saturday. Edgard Zayas has the call on Shawdyshawdyshawdy, while Joe Bravo has the mount on Catch That Party.

Since two-mile stakes on turf don’t come around very often, trainer Graham Motion seized the opportunity for Stone Farm’s Swore and Wertheimer and Frere’s Serifos.

Swore, one of the most lightly raced horse in the Jerkens field, played catch-up during the summer while stretching out on turf. The 4-year-old son of Broken Vow broke his maiden at Kentucky Downs Sept. 3 in a 1 ½-mile maiden special weight event on turf.  He’s coming off a wide-trip fourth in a 1 3/8-mile allowance on turf at Aqueduct.

“I was a little disappointed with his last race, but having said that, I’ve always thought the farther the better, and there aren’t many opportunities to run two miles,” said Motion, who has named Tyler Gaffalione to ride Swore. “He’s a horse I like a lot. He’s trained well here, and I know Tyler likes him a lot.”

Motion trained Swore’s sire, who won his first two career starts at Gulfstream before going on to become a Grade 1 stakes-placed multiple graded-stakes winner in the early 2000s.

“There are certain horses in a trainer’s career that get him to the next level, and he was one of those horses,” said Motion, who trained Broken Vow for the late Josephine Abercrombie’s Pin Oak Stable. “When you get a horse like that it catches people’s attention, and I was lucky to have him. I was very lucky to train for Mrs. Abercrombie for as long as I did.”

Motion-trained Serifos enters the Jerkens off a distant fourth in the 1 ½-mile Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance (G2) on dirt on Breeders’ Cup Weekend at Santa Anita.

“That race came up very competitive. I think the winner [Salesman] is really good. He kind of ran them off their feet. I think that it turned into a quicker-paced race than normally a mile and a half race would,” said Motion, whose runners will each receive six pounds from Value Engineering..

Serifos won the off-the-turf Presious Passion at 1 ½ miles at Monmouth two starts earlier.

Hall of Famer John Velazquez has the call on the 4-year-old Into Mischief gelding.

Team Valor International LLC’s McLovin will be in receipt of just one pound from Value Engineering while coming off a one-length triumph in the two-mile John Forbes Memorial over Fair Hill’s turf course for trainer Rodolphe Brissett.  The 5-year-old son of Animal Kingdom has been transferred to trainer Arnaud Delacour, who had formerly trained him for two starts last year – victories in a 1 3/8-mile maiden special weight race at Tampa Bay Downs on turf and an optional claiming allowance at Keeneland at 1 ½ miles on turf.

Joel Rosario has the call on McLovin, who is second in weights at 123 pounds.

Ferro Family Trust and partners’ F Five, a promising son of Not This Time, won a 1 5/8-mile optional claiming allowance on turf at Ellis Park before finishing off the board in the River City (G3) at Churchill last time out. The Brian Lynch-trained 4-year-old gelding, who has been assigned 121 pounds, will be ridden Sunday by Luis Saez.